I’m not going to deny that one of the main attractions of the Diois region is the climate. Devon, in English terms, on average, does fare well in comparison with the rest of the country. But averages only tell part of the story, and we’ve had an extended poor run of summers for several years now, and the forecasters say that that might be the norm for a while yet.
Well, at the risk of sounding a little morbid, I occasionally muse on how many summers I’ve got left in which I can make good use of the reasonably fit and active body I’m fortunate enough to have. Will I be able and keen to go up Alpe d’Huez in my seventies? Possibly yes, but I’d rather be getting in the riding and general enjoyment of the outdoors now, in decent weather. And decent weather has been in short supply. (That’s assuming that decent weather includes reasonable doses of sunshine and warmth – though I’ll grant that it’s not to everyone’s taste.)
Anyway, back to Diois weather, and those fallible averages: on average, Die has the same amount of rain as Devon, but about 800 more hours of sunshine. Yep, 800. That’s nearly 50% more. Even if you distrust statistics, that’s likely to be noticeable. And so it was last summer, with both of my visits seeing plenty of sunshine, while Devon was suffering storms and flooding. Not to mention temperatures of 39C during the August stay.
“But,” I hear you say, “if it’s so sunny, how come they have as much rain as Devon?” Good question – I’m glad you asked. Well, if you’ve seen an Alpine storm, you’ll know how. An “orage”. Rain like you”ll rarely see in England, but seen regularly here, especially at certain times of the year.
Well, one was forecast yesterday, and it came. There was no missing it. Thunder rolling around for an hour, lightning flashes getting closer. Then suddenly the wind went mad for five minutes, and all the mountains disappeared behind a wall of rain. The wind stopped, but it carried on raining for an hour. Then it stopped, and warm sun came out and there were clear blue skies. Time for a quick ride. But the showers were still about, so time to close the shutters for the night. When it rains here, you understand why French houses have shutters. Incidentally, we’ce had two rainy days here so far in August. Most of the rest of the time it’s been sunny. They’re getting their 800 extra hours, it seems.
Only two photos: one post-thunderstorm during the snatched ride; the other, an incendiary evening sky.